Wednesday, 26 February 2020


About kauri trees, Wabi-Sabi and Helen Monroe Marilyn Clark

Three distinctly different bodies of work by talented Coromandel artist Daniel Kirsch’s artworks are at the moment being exhibited at Bread & Butter Gallery in Whitianga.

As a lover of the outdoors, Daniel has developed a close relationship with nature. This passion, along with a strong interest in New Zealand’s cultural traditions, encouraged him to study Te Reo and Tikanga, allowing him to explore what is unique about Maori language and culture.

Daniel uses a variety of media in his work, including ink and print, as well as integrating images, words and screen prints onto paper and wood. He also enjoys collecting discarded materials such as panels of abandoned vehicles to act as canvases.

Daniel’s first body of work in Bread & Butter focuses on the beautiful native kauri of New Zealand. Not only are they a significant element of our landscape, but they also play a part in the culture and early history of New Zealand. Maori see the kauri tree as the king of the forest, a taonga (treasure) that creates a connection between man and the spiritual world. In early Maori culture, kauri was used in mythology, art, rituals and war. Some of the larger trees were even named and classed the chiefs of the forest.

A range of screen prints depicts the trees from different angles. Kauri timber from old buildings in the Coromandel was collected and recycled, with most works printed onto these. Recycled pine was also used, sometimes with nails poking out, to symbolise the damage done to the environment through human interference, and how native bush is often destroyed and swapped for commercial pine forestry.

The second body of work at Bread & Butter, “Wabi-Sabi of the Sleeping Beauties,” offer a unique way of looking at abandoned automobiles on the Coromandel. Daniel screen-printed photographic images of individual wrecks, along with accompanying words, straight onto the rusted body parts of the same car. He aims to emphasize the forgotten beauty of these rejected vehicles and their often unusual positioning as interruptions to the natural landscape.

Daniel’s viewpoint could be attributed to Wabi-Sabi, a Japanese concept celebrating impermanence. Left to the elements, abandoned vehicles are no longer maintained and begin to deteriorate.        

Daniel called his third body of work at Bread & Butter “Helen Monroe Marilyn Clark.” The artworks are inspired by Andy Warhol’s quirky and colourful exploration of different concepts. They challenge the often-damaging media-driven idea of beauty and youthfulness.

A doctored image from the 2008 Labour Party election campaign portrayed   an unrealistically young Prime Minister Helen Clark, emphasizing society’s belief that we must be polished to perfection if we are to be successful.

Drawing from this, Daniel created a playful yet deeply meaningful take on this topic. He exaggerated Helen Clark’s youthful look by adding the “Marilyn Monroe-Warhol-makeover” over the top of it. These large, 720mm x 720mm prints on paper consist of various colourful limited editions. All were manually screen-printed by Daniel, with each print numbered and signed.        

If you have time to spare, a visit to Bread & Butter is a must-do this summer.

Pictured: Coromandel artist Daniel Kirsch with one of his artworks that’s at moment being exhibited at Bread & Butter Gallery in Whitianga.


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